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Bid to revive teacher misconduct bill fails

August 24, 2012 |  4:58 pm

Republican lawmakers on Friday mounted an unsuccessful effort to revive a bill that would speed the dismissal process for teachers who engage in sexual abuse.

The bill, SB 1530 by state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), had been rejected by the Assembly Education Committee earlier this year after teachers unions painted the measure as an attack on due-process rights. On Friday, Assemblyman Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) sought to revive the legislation on the Assembly floor by amending its language into another bill.

The Democrats who dominate the Assembly rejected the amendments.

“It is extremely disappointing that when given a second opportunity to do the right thing, Assembly Democrats once again said no and blocked bipartisan reforms to protect our kids from dangerous classroom predators,” Knight said in a statement. "Sadly, Assembly Democrats showed that they will stop at nothing when it comes to serving the interests of the teacher unions -- even when our kids are at risk.”

The bill was prompted by the case of Mark Berndt, a former teacher at Miramonte Elementary School in South Los Angeles, who was charged with 23 counts of lewd acts on children. The measure would expedite the dismissal process for teachers who engaged in "serious or egregious unprofessional conduct": offenses involving sex, drugs or violence.

Labor opponents, led by the California Teachers Assn., argued that the existing dismissal process was adequate and blamed administrators for failing to apply the law properly. Unions objected that the bill would have given school boards, rather than an administrative judge and two educators, final authority over dismissals.

The Times looked at the influence of CTA earlier this week. On Thursday, CNN aired a story in which they visited the Capitol to confront lawmakers who either abstained on or opposed the teacher-dismissal bill.


California Teachers Assn. a powerful force in Sacramento

State gives initial OK to $1.4 million for lawsuit settlements

Assembly speaker vows action on public pensions, 'regulatory reform'

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento